By Eric Zuesse
The overwhelming opposition to Donald Trump’s taking office on January 20th as the U.S. President — opposition on the part of the entire U.S. Establishment (America’s aristocrats and their agents in the government and media and think tanks) — has made clear that the Establishment would welcome any opportunity to replace Trump with the Democratic Party’s Establishment Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, or with any other Establishmentarian (such as Trump’s own V.P. choice, Mike Pence). First, there were the efforts to have vote-recounts in the three states where Trump’s victory over Clinton were the narrowest; then, there was the orchestrated campaign to switch to her enough Electoral College electors for her to ‘win’; then, there was the effort to portray Trump’s win as having been engineered in Moscow and thus illegitimate. (Both Clinton and Obama endorsed those efforts.) But now could come the tactic (this a Republican one) that actually has the highest likelihood of succeeding, and it would replace Trump by Pence. Here’s how it can very easily happen (with my boldfaces added, for clarity):
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of … the principal officers of the executive departments … transmit to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department, or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling
The overthrow becomes immediately effective, on the say-so of solely the V.P. plus a majority of the Cabinet. They don’t have to justify their joint decision to anybody; but, “Congress shall decide the issue … within forty-eight hours”, and so it “determines by two-thirds vote of both houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Presumably, the aristocrats (with the assistance of the newsmedia they control) will buy-off any congressional stragglers whom they must, in order to meet that two-thirds requirement. (After all, these people own trillions; buying such a palace coup would be a huge bargain for them.) If they fail, however, there is no statutory penalty for their having attempted what would then have been, in fact, a legal palace coup in the U.S. federal government. They’d all be safe — and President Trump would then need to fight his way to convincing the hostile Congress and newsmedia that they — his own enemies — had been wrong to allege that he was “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” In other words: even if the coup-attempt fails the first time around, the President will be left unable to govern, regardless of what his actual abilities are. Maybe the same process will be repeated a month later. Trump’s Presidency would probably end soon thereafter. It would be a nighmare not only for him, and not only for America, but for the entire world: a palace coup to grab control of the U.S. Executive office (they already own most of Congress), for the U.S. aristocracy.
All that’s needed in order to trigger this nightmare would be Pence plus half of Trump’s Cabinet.
Far over a majority of the people whom Trump has appointed to be “the principal officers of the executive departments” — i.e., majority of his 15-person Cabinet — are Establishment Republicans, who favor continuation of the Cold War against Russia. This continuation of that hostility on the American side had started when the Establishment Republican U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush, on 24 February 1990, confidentially instructed not only his Cabinet, but heads-of-state of America’s European allies, that NATO’s hostility toward Russia, was to continue in secret, even after the Soviet Union and its communism and its Warsaw Pact military alliance would end, which end of those Soviet entities occurred in 1991. Under Obama, the old American “Cold War” (henceforth now against Russia on the alleged basis of both Ukraine and Syria) has been getting hotter than it had been since at least the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 (which crisis actually did pose an authentic national-security danger to the U.S.). However, candidate — now President-elect — Trump has consistently been promising to stop it (because what’s happening in Ukraine and Syria don’t pose any such national-security danger to America, but are instead national-security threats to Russia (such as by America’s now possibly placing nuclear missiles in Ukraine only a five-minute flight-time to Moscow), instigated largely BY the United States. In the view of America’s aristocrats and their agents (including such firms as Lockheed Martin), Trump is now threatening them — he’s threatening to end the Cold War, on the American side, as it had already ended on Russia’s side, in 1991.
Either Trump will reverse his many public statements supporting rapprochement with Russia, or else the U.S. Establishment — which includes almost every living member and former member of Congress, and virtually all of the think tanks and newsmedia, and also the Establishmentarian Pence, whom Trump himself had appointed; and, also, the mostly Establishment Republicans whom Trump has selected for his Cabinet — will likely remove him from office and hand the Presidency to the Constitutionally assigned substitute, the U.S. V.P., Mike Pence himself.
In either case, America’s war against Russia would likely resume, as it was under Obama, and perhaps even as bad as Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton had been promising to escalate it (which would be to World War III).
The Democratic political commentator, Keith Olbermann, already on 5 January 2017, was propagandizing for this outcome; but he didn’t say that he would actually prefer Pence to be President; he instead showed that he wanted Pence to be President; he showed it by his there urging that it happen.
NOTE: Olbermann misstated there, at 7:14– in that video, the U.S. Constitution, by his saying that the overthrow would be “by the Vice President and the Speaker of the House using the 25th Amendment” — that’s not what the 25th Amendment actually authorizes; it instead authorizes “the Vice President and a majority of” the Cabinet, to overthrow the elected President, and it makes no mention there of “the Speaker of the House,” at all. Earlier, on 23 November 2016, Olbermann had gotten that matter right. Perhaps as Olbermann is ageing, he’s losing his memory (thus forgetting what he had known a month or so earlier, on November 23rd), and increasingly is just winging it (instead of rechecking his key facts), and this might be why he now thinks that such a coup can be carried out merely by the “Vice President and the Speaker of the House” — i.e., by (the two Establishmentarians) Mike Pence and Paul Ryan. It’s fortunately not true. If it were that easy, then Trump might not be able to last as the President for even a month. Getting a majority of the Cabinet to participate in the conspiracy would be far less likely than that, even though they’re part of the Establishment. Some, even of the Establishment faction (and thus inclined toward dictatorship), might have a conscience.
What’s important here, however, is that this clause of the 25th Amendment does allow the Establishment Republican V.P. Pence, plus “a majority of” the Establishment Republican Cabinet that Trump has (unfortunately) selected, to throw Trump out and make the reactionary Pence become America’s President in his place. Trump, by choosing an Establishment V.P. and an Establishment Cabinet, has virtually invited an Establishment coup, unless he buckles early to the Establishment and violates every progressive promise he had uttered during his campaign for the Presidency — especially his promise to work together with Russia’s leader, to the benefit of both countries.
What is especially remarkable here is that a putative “progressive Democrat,” Olbermann, is actually proposing this fascist takeover of the U.S. Government, which the 25th Amendment allows, and which Trump himself was stupid enough to enable, by his having chosen so many conservative Republicans for his Cabinet, and for V.P.
Unfortunately, Trump seems not to have been bright enough to have known of this feature of the U.S. Constitution, and so he might have been tragically unaware of the vital necessity for him to select anti-Establishment people for his V.P. and Cabinet; and, so, if Trump himself doesn’t rule as an Establishment President (which will become clear within two months at the most), a coup overthrowing him would actually be fairly easy, and the major question would be the coup’s timing. Presumably, the aristocracy would delay it until there is clarity that Trump is serious about reversing some of their key policies — such as NATO’s pushing Russia into a World War. Remarkably, this would be an entirely Constitutional coup — one that takes advantage of the stupid drafting of the 25th Amendment.
Stupidity might be rampant, but the American aristocracy (who are united behind GHW Bush’s 24 February 1990 plan) take advantage of every opportunity that’s available to them — and this is certainly a major one. Consequently, the next four years are remarkably likely to be a conservative rape of the U.S., and even of the world (along the lines of Hillary Clinton’s plan to finish GHW Bush’s plan, but overseen by Pence and the Republicans instead).
Up to the present moment at least, Trump is still displaying the courage to repudiate the U.S. aristocracy’s top priority, of continuing the war against Russia that GHW Bush started, and that Obama has been raising to a fever-pitch. If Trump sticks with this repudiation of the Bush-until-Obama foreign-policy thrust, and yet (somehow) survives in office, then, right there — on that one issue alone — he will be reversing the horrible U.S. history after 24 February 1990 (which the U.S. Establishment are obsessed to continue and to culminate), and finally be setting the world onto the most essential path to peace and prosperity (prosperity in all but the ‘defense’ industries), so that authentic progress can, perhaps, begin to be made on domestic issues, both inside the United States, and around the world: the widespread public hope at the end of the Cold War (the freeing-up end of the vast armanents-drain and destruction — such as the invasions of Syria and Ukraine — to spend those trillions instead constructively, upon domestic economies) will finally become reality, from which billions of people will benefit
PERSONAL NOTE: Although I expect the worst, I hope that subsequent events will prove my expectations regarding Trump’s Presidency to have been wrong.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.